To understand line shopping it’s easy to use a common analogy we can all relate to. Imagine you’re on a road trip and you are running low on gas. You get off the highway and there are five gas stations all right in a row. Typically the prices at all of these stations are within a few cents of each other, but the gas stations set their prices independently for essentially the same product. It is the same with sports betting odds – each sportsbook sets their own odds independently for each game.
Now back to the road trip example, most people would just choose the gas station with the cheapest gas. However, suppose you have a rewards program with Marathon. Would you be willing to pay more for gas just to get those rewards? If so, how much more? In reality, it would be valuable for you to have rewards programs with ALL of the gas stations in order to always be able to take advantage and get the cheapest price on gas, whatever the market looks like on your particular stretch of highway.
It’s no different with sportsbooks. If you want to bet on a certain game, you shouldn’t just only look at one sportsbook, even if it is your favorite. It’s advantageous to have all of the sportsbooks available to you to ensure you get the best odds for the bet you want to make.
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What is Line Shopping?
Line shopping is the act of looking at the lines across all of the sportsbooks available to you in order to see the best odds on a market.
Remember: just like with gas, books set their lines independently meaning there will be discrepancies in the lines across books.
There are various forms of line shopping. Some have to do with finding the best odds on a moneyline, others have to do with finding the best point spreads and Over/Unders available.
Let’s take a look at a moneyline example courtesy of BetRivers, Fanduel, and PointsBet:
Let’s say the sportsbook you usually use is PointsBet. There’s nothing wrong with PointsBet, they are an amazing innovative sportsbook!
You have a good feeling about Indiana as a small underdog tonight and want to place a bet on their moneyline and see they are at +105 on PointsBet.
If you did not have accounts with other sportsbooks, you would be stuck with the +105 line and either have to take it or not bet at all. Luckily, you are a smart bettor and have multiple accounts.
You go over to FanDuel and check out their line.
This one is five cents better at +110. Score! However, you are still a smart bettor and have more than two accounts so you go to check another book just to be safe.
You head on over to BetRivers to check out their line. You find that it’s two cents better than the FanDuel line at +112! It may not be much, but we want you to take every advantage you can get on the books.
Confident you have found the best line you place your moneyline bet on the Pacers at +112.
Point Spread and Over/Under Shopping
In most cases point spread and o/u odds are always going to be set at -110/-110. This makes shopping for better odds on these markets more difficult. However, you can shop for better total points or spreads themselves.
Let’s dig into a hypothetical:
Book A has a specific matchup set at +/- 5 at -110 with an O/U of 203 at -110
Book B has the same matchup set at +/- 5.5 at -110 with an O/U of 203.5 at -110
In this scenario, you would likely go with book B due to the protection of the hook on both the point spread and the O/U. You will rarely, if ever, find a difference larger than half a point when shopping these types of lines.
However, as you know, in sports betting gaining half a point can be the difference between a push and a win.
You always want to be careful to check the odds of the spread you are betting on. Just because a spread USUALLY is set at -110/-110 does not mean the books will always present that.
In the above screenshot we can see the +/- 1.5 spread. However, notice the odds of -115/-105.
When I go check another book I find that their spread is set at +/- 1 with -110 odds.
In the first screenshot that bet is actually juiced against you, and technically you are buying or selling points depending on which teams spread you take.
The actual spread should be set at +/- 1 for that even -110 odds we are looking for.
Always pay attention to the odds you are betting, never assume the odds.
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The short answer is no, it is not. The difference between shopping these lines and buying or selling points is that we are not changing our odds in order to get a different spread or total.
If we were to buy or sell points on a spread we would no longer have the -110 odds because we either took a more favorable bet for a lower payout or took a less favorable bet for a higher payout.
If we were to buy or sell points on an O/U we would be taking a more likely point total outcome for less of a possible payout or a less likely total point outcome for a larger possible payout.
When shopping lines the odds, spreads, and totals are still the consensus, mainline market being offered for these bets – we’re just looking for the book with the most favorable numbers for what you want to bet. We are not looking to alternate markets to make our bet more favorable.
Line Shopping Made Easy
Opening up 3,4,5 different sportsbooks manually, even on a computer can be very tedious to do on a regular basis for each and every bet you want to make. By now you should know OddsJam has the right tools for you.
All you have to do is go over to the Odds tab from the OddsJam home page and select the sport you want to bet. Then you click the specific game box you are trying to bet on. You can also use the search feature to type in exactly the game you are looking for.
Once you have reached the event page you can compare the lines against ALL of the books you have available in your state. OddsJam even highlights the book with the best odds for each side. You can see in the example above if you wanted to bet on the Cavs moneyline you should bet it at +164 on FanDuel. The Cavs won this game – had you just blindly bet them on Barstool you’d have given up $14 in profit on a $100 bet.
Best of all, this feature is FREE to you! OddsJam’s event pages show the breakdown of odds at all sportsbooks offered in your state for more than just moneyline, spread, and total. It shows alternate markets, player props, and more. This should always be your first stop when looking to place a bet to make sure you always get the best odds for the bet you want to make.